Art Market

A street artist is suing Ellen Degeneres and Walmart for copyright infringement.

Benjamin Sutton
Jul 31, 2019 5:04PM, via Forbes

Ellen Degeneres. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images.

The street artist Julian Rivera is suing Walmart and Ellen Degeneres for copyright infringement, alleging that a clothing line produced by the retail giant and talk show host ripped off his design. The lawsuit, filed in district court in Los Angeles, claims items introduced for sale as part of the EV1 clothing line in early 2019 feature a design with a line drawing of a heart whose shape contains the word “love” in cursive text—that Rivera’s complaint describes as “a slavish copy” of his own work.

The complaint adds that:

nothing is more antithetical to a street artist’s credibility than association with mass-market consumerism—of which Walmart is the epitome. People who recognized his design in the EV1 Collection would have concluded that Rivera “sold out,” diminishing the value of his work and reputation.

Rivera has used his heart design extensively in his own work, not only as a signature of sorts in his art, but as a logo on a range of products sold through his website and other retailers. In his lawsuit he claims that he first attempted to alert Walmart and Degeneres to their allegedly infringing behavior in May, and Walmart eventually responded earlier this month “assert[ing] that it had not copied the Design, that its own graphic was quite different, and that [Rivera’s design] was only minimally creative.”

Rivera is seeking monetary damages and for Walmart and Degeneres “to immediately recall and remove any and all infringing products.”

Further Reading: How Graffiti Artists Are Fighting Back against Brands That Steal Their Work

Benjamin Sutton